UNITED STATES NEWS

A look inside Donald Trump’s deposition: Defiance, deflection and the ‘hottest brand in the world’

Aug 31, 2023, 4:23 PM | Updated: 4:52 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — In newly public testimony, Donald Trump boasts about building a multibillion-dollar brand and saving “millions of lives” as president.

He spars with the New York attorney general suing him for fraud, telling Letitia James “the whole case is crazy” and accusing her staff of trying to trip him up like TV lawyer Perry Mason.

Trump gave seven hours of sworn testimony in April as part of James’ lawsuit, which accused the Republican and his company of defrauded banks, insurers and others with annual financial statements that inflated the value of assets and boosted his net worth by more than $2 billion in some years.

Trump’s lawyers posted a transcript of his deposition in a flurry of court filings Wednesday, ahead of a possible October trial.

Here are the highlights:


A ‘TERRIBLE THING’

Trump decried James’ lawsuit as a “terrible thing,” telling her and her staff “you don’t have a case.”

He insisted the banks she alleges were snookered with lofty valuations suffered no harm, got paid in his deals and “to this day have no complaints.”

“Do you know the banks made a lot of money?” Trump asked. “Do you know I don’t believe I ever got even a default notice and, even during COVID, the banks were all paid. And yet you’re suing on behalf of banks, I guess. It’s crazy. The whole case is crazy.”

Banks “want to do business with me because I’m rich,” Trump told James. “But, you know what, they’re petrified to do business because of you.”

Trump complained New York authorities “spend all their time investigating me, instead of stopping violent crime in the streets.”

He said they’d put his recently jailed ex-finance chief Allen Weisselberg “through hell and back” for dodging taxes on company-paid perks.

“Now I have to come and justify myself to you,” Trump groused.

DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT

Trump said he never felt his financial statements “would be taken very seriously,” and that people who did business with him were given ample warning not to trust them.

Trump described the statements as “a fairly good compilation of properties” rather than a true representation of their value. Some numbers, he noted, were “guesstimates.”

Trump claimed the statements were mainly for his use, though he conceded financial institutions sometimes asked for them.

Even then, he insisted it didn’t matter legally if they were accurate or not, because they came with a disclaimer.

“I have a clause in there that says, ‘Don’t believe the statement. Go out and do your own work,” Trump testified. “You’re supposed to pay no credence to what we say whatsoever.”

WHAT’S IN A NAME? $10 BILLION

Trump estimated that his “brand” alone is worth “maybe $10 billion.”

He called it “the most valuable asset I have” and attributed his political success to the ubiquity of his name and persona.

“I became president because of the brand, OK,” Trump said. “I became president. I think it’s the hottest brand in the world.”

‘MOST IMPORTANT JOB IN THE WORLD’

After Trump was elected, he put the Trump Organization into a trust overseen by his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg.

Trump claimed he did so not because it was required but because he wanted to be a “legitimate president” and avoid appearance of a conflict of interest.

Plus, Trump said, he was busy solving the world’s problems — like preventing North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un from launching a nuclear attack.

“I considered this the most important job in the world, saving millions of lives,” Trump testified. “I think you would have nuclear holocaust if I didn’t deal with North Korea. I think you would have a nuclear war, if I weren’t elected. And I think you might have a nuclear war now, if you want to know the truth.”

NOW WE’RE TALKING

Trump’s often garrulous testimony was a 180-degree turn from the approach he took when James summoned him for questioning in August 2022 — before her lawsuit or any of the four criminal cases against him were filed.

At that first deposition, Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refusing to answer questions more than 400 times. Trump said he did so because he was certain politically motivated prosecutors would use his answers as a basis for criminal charges.

By April, Trump changed his mind and responded to even simple questions at such length that his interrogator, James’ deputy Kevin Wallace, suggested he was trying to run out the clock.

“Chris, we’re going to be here until midnight if your client answers every question with an eight-minute speech,” he said to one of Trump’s lawyers, Christopher Kise.

Trump, though, seemed aware there was a risk in going on and on.

In the middle of one of his protracted answers, expounding on the greatness of one of his golf courses, Trump said: “You are going to let me go on, hoping that I make a mistake. And that’s OK. That’s the way it is. Perry Mason. Perry Mason.”

OBSTRUCTED VIEW

Trump testified at the attorney general’s Manhattan office, across the street from 40 Wall Street — a skyscraper labeled “The Trump Building” in big, gold letters.

Asked how the building was doing, financially, Trump answered: “Good. It’s right here. Would you like to see it?”

“I don’t think we’re allowed to open the windows,” Wallace said.

“Open the curtain,” Trump suggested.

“No,” Wallace said.

“Open the curtain, go ahead,” Trump said. “It’s right here. I just looked out the window.”

“Can’t open it?” Trump lawyer Clifford Robert asked, after a beat.

“I wouldn’t,” Wallace said.

‘BEAUTIFUL’ AND ’INCREDIBLE’

Trump showed off his knack for superlatives, uttering the words “beautiful” and “incredible” 15 times each and “phenomenal” six times as he described his properties.

Trump called his Turnberry, Scotland, golf course “one of the most iconic places in the world,” and the renovated villas at his Doral golf resort near Miami “the most beautiful rooms you’ve ever seen.”

Trump described his 213-acre Seven Springs estate north of New York City as “the greatest house in New York State.”

His golf courses in Aberdeen, Scotland? “Really incredible.” Jupiter, Florida? “An incredible facility.” Just outside Los Angeles? “An incredible property… an unbelievable property… a phenomenal property that fronts on the ocean.”

“I don’t want to sell any of them,” Trump testified. “But if I ever sold them — if I ever put some of these things up for sale — I would get numbers that were staggering.”

He said he could get $1.5 billion for his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and maybe $2.5 billion for Doral.

Trump suggested he could get “a fortune” from the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV golf league for the Turnberry course, a former British Open site.

“There would be people that would do anything to own Doral. There are people that would do anything to own Turnberry or Mar-a-Lago or… Trump Tower or 40 Wall Street.”

__

Associated Press reporters Jennifer Peltz and David B. Caruso contributed to this report.

__

Follow Sisak at x.com/mikesisak and send confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips

United States News

southern Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly...

Associated Press

Trial of a southern Arizona rancher charged in fatal shooting of unarmed migrant goes to the jury

Closing arguments were made against a southern Arizona rancher accused of shooting an undocumented migrant on his land to death on Thursday.

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Unfair labor complaint filed against Notre Dame over athletes

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — An unfair labor complaint was filed Thursday against the University of Notre Dame for classifying college athletes as “student-athletes.” The complaint was filed with the National Labor Relations Board by a California-based group calling itself the College Basketball Players Association. It said Notre Dame is engaging in unfair labor practices […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

US deports about 50 Haitians to nation hit with gang violence, ending monthslong pause in flights

MIAMI (AP) — The Biden administration sent about 50 Haitians back to their country on Thursday, authorities said, marking the first deportation flight in several months to the Caribbean nation struggling with surging gang violence. The Homeland Security Department said in a statement that it “will continue to enforce U.S. laws and policy throughout the […]

12 hours ago

Donald Trump's hush money trial: 12 jurors selected...

Associated Press

Although 12 jurors were picked for Donald Trump’s hush money trial, selection of alternates is ongoing

A jury of 12 people was seated Thursday in former President Donald Trump's hush money trial. The proceedings are close to opening statements.

13 hours ago

Associated Press

Legislation allowing doctor-assisted suicide narrowly clears Delaware House, heads to state Senate

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A bill allowing doctor-assisted suicide in Delaware narrowly cleared the Democrat-led House on Thursday and now goes to the state Senate for consideration. The bill is the latest iteration of legislation that has been repeatedly introduced by Newark Democrat Paul Baumbach since 2015, and it is the only proposal to make […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

California governor pledges state oversight for cities, counties lagging on solving homelessness

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Nearly $200 million in grant money will go to California cities and counties to move homeless people from encampments into housing, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday while also pledging increased oversight of efforts by local governments to reduce homelessness. The Democratic governor said he will move 22 state personnel from a […]

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

A look inside Donald Trump’s deposition: Defiance, deflection and the ‘hottest brand in the world’